Edith Stein on the Woman’s Soul

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“Just so, woman’s soul is designed to be subordinate to man in obedience and support; it is also fashioned to be shelter in which other souls may unfold.”

“The soul of woman must therefore be expansive and open to all human beings; it must be quiet so that no small weak flame will be extinguished by stormy winds; warm so as to not benumb fragile buds; clear, so that no vermin will settle in dark corners and recesses; self-contained, so that no invasions from without can imperil the inner life; empty of itself, in order that extraneous life may have room in it; finally, mistress of itself and also of its body, so that the entire person is readily at the disposal of every call.”

-Edith Stein, Fundamental Principles of Women’s Education

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Embracing Edith Stein: A Review

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Anne Costa’s book, Embracing Edith Stein, was my traveling companion on my recent trip to MO. I wish I had spent more than a few hours with her. I fully intend to revisit her someday when I have several days to digest her teachings.

Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time knows that I love Edith Stein. I think that she is the mother of the New Feminism whose writings are largely untapped gold. Her teachings currently lives primarily though the voice of John Paul II. As Costa says herself:

Edith’s Essays on Women seem to be so directly foundational to the writings and works of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body that the two are like inseparable companions. Together, these two intellectual and spiritual powerhouses have transformed our understanding of human dignity in the context of a worldwide culture that is hell-bent on self-destruction. They are, in the fullest sense of the words, prophets of life who have provided us with a body of knowledge that can lead to a rich and transcendent self-understanding that calls upon women to embrace our potential and exercise our responsibility to “aid humanity in not falling.” – pg. 81

Someday, I hope and pray that her teachings live and breathe through their own right.

This book is an admirable attempt to do just that. Costa makes Edith Stein’s work on the dignity of women digestible for a non-academic audience. She introduces you to Edith Stein’s life and thought. She then breaks down for you the four traits that are part of the feminine genius according to Edith Stein. Each chapter concludes with reflective questions which makes this book ideal for personal or group study.

But enough about the mechanics, Edith Stein, through Anne Costa’s book, points us to the way to become holier, more Christ-like women fulfilling our vocations in this fallen world. First in foremost, we need to be open to God and His will. If we are open to God, God will do all of the rest. We are to be like Mary:

Women are uniquely called to receive Christ and bring him into the world, as Mary did.- pg. 51

If you are like me, you may not initially like that example. Like the lyrics of the hymn, “Gentle woman, quiet light…” You think Mary and you think of the weak, meek woman who is a doormat, the stereotypical docile Marianismo (the female counterpart to machismo). But Mary wasn’t weak. Think about it: Mary could have been stoned to death for being pregnant out-of-wedlock. Mary followed her Son, who everyone thought was crazy, all the way to His death. She watched her Son die. This is not the story of a meek woman. Yes, she was humble in following her Lord, but she was nobody’s doormat.

Why do we need Edith Stein in today’s world? Just as Mary was a woman from 2000 years ago in Palestine, Stein was a woman 70 years ago in Nazi Germany. What does either of them have to say for women in the United States in 2014?

Simply put: We need her wisdom and example. The world is in desperate need of women who understand their inherent value and dignity; faith-filled women who are prepared to shape the world and influence the direction of humanity by who they are. As Edith states, “[God] has called women in all times to the most intimate union with Him: they are to be emissaries of his love, proclaimers of His will to kings and popes, and forerunners of His Kingdom in the hearts of men…[It] is the most sublime vocation which has been given, and whoever sees this way open before her will yearn for no other way.” -pg. 93

Yup, that pretty much covers it.

Edith Stein on the Proper Relationship with God

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“All of the defects in a man’s nature which cause him to fail in his original vocation are rooted in a perverted relationship to God. Man can fulfill his most noble vocation which is to be the image of God only if he seeks to develop his powers by subordinating himself humbly to God’s guidance.”

– Edith Stein, The Separate Vocations of Man and Woman According to Nature and Grace

Edith Stein and Women and Joy

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“Of the threefold attitude towards the world–to know it, to enjoy it, to form it creatively–it is the second which concerns her [woman] most directly: she seems more capable than man of feeling a more reverent joy in creatures; moreover, such joy requires a particular kind of perception of the good, different from rational perception in being an inherent spiritual function and a singularly feminine one.”

– Edith Stein, The Separate Vocations of Man and Woman According to Nature and Grace

Edith Stein on Women in the Workforce

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“One could say that in case of need, every normal and healthy woman is able to hold a position. And there is no profession which cannot be practiced by a woman.”

“Thus the participation of women in the most diverse professional disciplines could be a blessing for the entire society, private or public, precisely if the specifically feminine ethos would be preserved…Let her be conscious of where there is a want and where help is needed, intervening and regulating as far as it is possible in her power in a discreet way. Then will she like a good spirit spread blessing everywhere.”

“Man is consumed by ‘his enterprise,’ and he expects others will be interested and helpful; generally, it is difficult for him to become involved in other beings and their concerns. On the contrary, it is natural for woman, and she has the faculty to interest herself empathetically in areas of knowledge far from her own concern and to which she would not pay heed if it were not that a personal interest drew her into contact with them. This endowment is bound closely to her maternal gift.”

-Edith Stein, The Ethos of Women’s Professions

Edith Stein on the Practicality of Women

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“Woman naturally seeks to embrace that which is living, personal, and whole. To cherish, guard, protect, nourish, and advance growth is her natural, maternal yearning. Lifeless matter, the fact, can hold primary interest for her only insofar as it serves the living and personal, not ordinarily for its own sake.”

-Edith Stein, The Ethos of Women’s Professions

I’ve noticed that you have all really liked my quotes from Edith Stein. I am pleased to announce that our next Ladies Night Out will feature a presentation by Anne Costa on Edith Stein!!!! 
 
Please join us on TONIGHT @ 7 PM at Stein’s Restaurant in Camillus!!! 
 
Please RSVP with Rita Condon at elizabethministryrita@gmail.com or
(315) 673-9458.

Edith Stein on the Deepest Longing of a Woman’s Heart

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In case you’re having trouble reading this (I did the first time I saw it): “A woman’s heart should be so lost in God that a man must seek Him in order to find her.”

“The deepest longing of a woman’s heart is to give herself lovingly, to belong to another, and to possess this other being completely…But this surrender becomes a perverted self-abandon and a form of slavery when it is given to another person and not to God; at the same time, it is an unjustified demand which no human being can fulfill. Only God can welcome a person’s total surrender in such a way that one does not lose one’s soul in the process but wins it.”

-Edith Stein, The Ethos of Women’s Professions

I’ve noticed that you have all really liked my quotes from Edith Stein. I am pleased to announce that our next Ladies Night Out will feature a presentation by Anne Costa on Edith Stein!!!! 
 
Please join us Tomorrow @ 7 PM at Stein’s Restaurant in Camillus!!! 
 
Please RSVP with Rita Condon at elizabethministryrita@gmail.com or
(315) 673-9458.